Ford dealership changes hands
By Jesse Phelps
2003 may be remembered as the
year many long-time Ojai landmarks changed hands.
Ojai Valley Bank merged with Mid-State, Azu encompassed Bill
Baker's Bakery and Ruben's No. 2 moved, making way for a second
Jim and Rob's Fresh Grill. In the latest in the series of sell-offs,
Bronk Vreeland Ojai Ford will come under new ownership at the
end of the month.
Current partner Dick Bronk confirmed the business has been bought
by two brothers, Mark and Ernie Johnston, and said that escrow
will close on July 31.
Bronk originally bought the dealership, which has stood in the
same spot since 1955, on April 13, 1990. He said he had no plans
However, when the Johnston brothers contacted him recently, everything
fell into place. "They called out of the blue and we told
them what we would sell it for and they agreed on the numbers,"
he said. "We didn't have it for sale. It was unsolicited."
Bronk did not want to disclose the selling price but said that
it includes the real estate where the dealership stands and the
Bronk said that Mark Johnston, who currently lives in West Hills,
will move to Ojai "to be part of the community" while
Ernie will continue to operate the brothers' other business,
another dealership in Santa Monica.
Bronk said that under the new owners, some things are likely
to be different. A revamped and improved service department and
the addition of some used imports could headline the changes.
"Mark's background is that he was a mechanic when he first
started out in the auto business," said Bronk. "He's
got some ideas to change some things in the service department.
They were high-line used car dealers so they're thinking about
bringing in used imports to sell along with the rest of the Ford
Meanwhile, Bronk says he isn't quite ready to drive off into
the sunset. "I'm going to continue on and work for them
as a general manager," he said. "I'm too young to retire.
I just won't have an ownership interest. I just turned 57 yesterday.
I don't have any interest in playing golf every day."
Bronk's partner, Jim Vreeland, was out of town and unable to
answer questions, but Bronk said he'll likely focus on his other
Ford dealership in Buellton.
Or, perhaps, the two will open another lot somewhere else. But
not in Ojai, said Bronk. "We're kind of up in the air. We
may do something in another location. Eventually I want to retire
to Lake Havasu, so I may do something in Arizona," he said.
"But nothing has been set in stone. We'll kind of see what
kind of happens from here."
Bronk says that, because everything happened so quickly, he's
still figuring out exactly what he wants to do in the long run.
"It happened just before Easter, when we got the offer,
so it took us kinda by surprise. That's why we don't have any
firm plans," he said.
The Ojai Valley News
to the news
BRONK in front of the dealership he has owned since 1990.